Monthly Archives : October 2016

Financial Advice

Are you considering remortgaging?

Are you considering remortgaging?

With continuing low interest rates, you may be considering remortgaging to save money.

Even if your mortgage provider has recently reduced its Standard Variable Rate (SVR), moving to a new mortgage deal could save you money. But before you’re tempted by an attractive introductory rate, it’s worth considering the bigger picture.

Should I stay or should I go?

It’s true that moving to a new deal could save you money, just remember to check that you won’t incur an Early repayment Charge (ERC) if you change your mortgage before the end of your current deal. It’s also worth factoring in any potential legal, valuation and administration costs that may be associated with signing up to a new mortgage deal.

Tougher lending rules

Mortgage regulation may also have changed since you took out your current deal. The EU Mortgage Credit Directive of 2015 introduced stricter lending criteria which has led to mortgage lenders having to take greater steps to check affordability – including on remortgages.

You can expect to be asked to show evidence of your income, such as payslips and bank statements, and your outgoings, including other debt repayments, household bills and living costs such as travel, clothing, entertainment and childcare.

Changing the type of deal

When looking at new deals, you may want to consider a different type of mortgage arrangement to your current deal.
For instance, you may decide you would benefit from the option of payment holidays, or a more flexible repayment arrangement.

If you have significant savings, you may want to switch to an offset or current account mortgage, where you use your
savings to reduce the proportion of the loan on which you pay interest.

Are you still covered?

If you’re thinking of changing your mortgage, remember to review your protection arrangements at the same time – especially if you don’t already have cover in place, or your circumstances have changed since you last reviewed your cover.

The value of personal, family, or income protection should not be underestimated if it means keeping the roof over your heads when you need it most.

With so many areas to consider, it makes sense to seek professional mortgage advice. We can help you weigh up the financial benefits of remortgaging, choose the most appropriate deal, handle your mortgage application and ensure your loan is properly protected.

[gem_quote style=”5″]If you’d like help choosing the right mortgage, please get in touch.[/gem_quote]

Your home/property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

moving home

Pack up your troubles

Pack up your troubles

Moving home can be stressful, especially if you’re new to the property ladder. But, by following a few simple tips, you can help ensure your move goes as smoothly as possible.

Seek mortgage advice

Try and get a mortgage offer in place before you start the buying process. It can be tempting to cut out the middleman and ‘go direct’ when choosing a deal, but the guidance you can get from qualified mortgage advisers, like us, can be invaluable.

We’ll compare a wide range of lenders and thousands of deals to find the most suitable Mortgage for you. We’ll also advise you on the right insurance cover to make sure you and your new home are protected. And we’ll be on hand throughout the application process to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Choose a reliable estate agent

If you’re selling up and want an estate agent to market your property, make sure you choose one who knows the local market. It’s easy to be tempted by a lower agency fee or higher suggested asking price, but make sure this doesn’t reduce the number of viewings or compromise on service. A comparison site like www.estateagent4me.co.uk can help you come up with a shortlist of agents in your area.

Find a good solicitor

As with estate agents, choosing a reliable solicitor can help remove unnecessary stress from the buying and selling process. You don’t need to use a local firm, but you should consider postal delays when it comes to signing or verifying important documents. Seek recommendations from friends and family where possible and make sure your solicitor is always going to be easy to get hold of.

Pack to a plan

Start packing up non-essential items early on. Label boxes on the top and side with details of what’s inside and where it needs to go, and keep screws and bolts from deconstructed furniture attached to the relevant piece.

Create an essentials box for items you’ll need on moving day (including things like kettle, mugs, lightbulbs, bedding etc.). If you’re paying to use a professional removals firm, check they’re a member of the British Association of Removers.

Small but important details

Make sure you find out those small but important details about your new property before you move in. Ask the previous owner, their solicitor or the estate agent, things like where the stopcock and utility meters are, what day the bins are collected, details of any alarm codes and who supplies the utilities. If the sellers leave any appliances, ask for the instructions and details of warranties.

Review your insurance

While putting buildings insurance in place is normally a condition of your mortgage, it can be easy to overlook other types of insurance that will help you pay your mortgage should you become ill or unable to work. We can help you identify the risks you face and, where appropriate, put policies in place to financially protect you and your family

[gem_quote style=”5″]If you’re planning on moving home, please talk to us about your mortgage and insurance needs.[/gem_quote]

Your home/property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

Pensions

Home truths

Home truths

The LV= Home Truths Report has revealed that homemakers are happier than people working in any other occupation, despite working longer hours than most people think.

Flexible hours, being able to spend time with the children and relatively low stress levels all contribute to homemakers generally feeling happier than those in full time jobs, even though they work, on average, 66 hours in a five day week.

It all adds up

As well as being crucial to the home and family, the role of the homemaker also contributes to the economy. In fact, the Office for National Statistics suggests an equivalent salary for a homemaker would be £38,162 a year, covering tasks like childcare, cooking, cleaning, transportation, shopping and doing the laundry.

Perhaps we underestimate the value of a homemaker though, as only 7% have taken out Income Protection insurance that would replace some, or all, of the £733 a week needed to pay for alternative cover.

Deadline to the breadline

To make things worse, families would only be able to manage to pay for help for just 18 days, on average, before they ran out of savings or had to borrow money – even though their first priority would be making sure their children are looked after.

It goes to show that there’s often a gap between our aspirations for our children and the steps we will take to ensure they can be realised.

While none of us want to think that an accident or illness will happen to us, life’s nasty surprises can (and do) happen to anyone and at any time.

[gem_quote style=”5″]If you have children, or a partner who rely on you or your income, it’s important to review your personal protection plans and make sure you have sufficient cover in place. We can help. Talk to us and we’ll make sure you have the right cover for your circumstances.[/gem_quote]
mortgage advice

Help to Buy schemes proving successful

Help to Buy schemes proving successful

Over 160,000 people have been able to achieve home-ownership thanks to the government’s Help to Buy housing schemes.

Of those, 118,000 were first time buyers, the average house price was £189,795 (significantly under the national average of £292,000), more than half were for new build homes and all but 5% of completions took place outside of London.

Supporting first time buyers

The Help to Buy schemes were primarily designed to support first time buyers and began with the Help to Buy: equity loan launched in April 2013. This was designed to support purchases of new build properties up to the value of £600,000, with a maximum equity of 20% (40% in Greater London). To date, 81,014properties have been purchased with the help of a Help to Buy: equity loan. Then followed the Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee scheme in October 2013, offering lenders the option to purchase a guarantee on mortgage loans where the borrower has a deposit of between 5% and 20%. 78,749 mortgages have been completed with the support of this scheme and 79% of those are first time buyers.

First time buyers got a further boost in December 2015, with the launch of the Help to Buy: ISA. Since then, more than 500,000 people saving for their first home will benefit from a government bonus of up to £3,000.

Helping people across the UK

Help to Buy is helping people throughout the UK to achieve their dream of owning a new or bigger home. It also appears to be contributing to a potential turnaround in the housing market decline: recent figures from the latest English housing survey show the number of people owning their own home has stopped reducing for the first time since 2003.

With the majority of completions outside of London, the highest number of homes completed through both the Help to Buy: ISA and mortgage guarantee schemes has been in the North West region. The equity loan is particularly popular in the South East region.

City-based first time buyers and second-steppers have been supported further by the London Help to Buy scheme launched in February 2016. The scheme supports purchases of new build homes in the capital by offering a 5% deposit backed by an equity loan of up to 40% from the government. There were 256 completions in London between 1 February 2016 and 31 March 2016 using the equity loan.

Right to Buy

In total, more than 309,000 households have been helped to purchase a home through a government backed Right to Buy scheme in the last six years – that’s 141 new homeowners a day and around 4,350 a month.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

[gem_quote style=”5″]If you’re dreaming of getting onto the housing ladder, or you need more space, please get in touch. We can help you find the perfect mortgage for your new home[/gem_quote]

Your home/property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

Home Insurance

Is your home winter-proof?

Is your home winter-proof?

With the year coming to an end and winter just around the corner we can start to expect colder, wetter, stormier weather conditions instead of the brighter, warmer days of summer.

This makes it a good time of year to assess how well protected your home and possessions are against the potential damage winter may cause. Take action now and ensure you have the relevant home insurance, check your property over and make a plan to protect it against bad weather.

The following preventative measures can go a long way towards avoiding the misery and inconvenience that damage to your home can bring:

• To protect your pipes and water tank
– Check the lagging, including in the loft
– Leave your central heating running at a constant temperature (the coldest time is between 1am and 3am). If possible, leave it running in all rooms.
• Use draft excluders and seal around window and door frames to block out cold air and keep hot air in, helping to maintain the temperature through the coldest periods.
• Tie down or safely store any outdoor furniture to avoid damage from high winds. You can also check roof tiles and any dead or broken branches on nearby trees which could cause damage.

Check your current insurance

Dig out those certificates of cover and policy documents and check your cover levels. You should review your cover at least once a year, to check it still meets your needs. We can help you understand what you’re covered for – and what you aren’t. While buying home insurance may feel like an expensive chore, it’s critical to ensure it meets your needs and expectations. If you don’t fully understand your policy exclusions (such as accidental damage), you may find that you are not fully covered.

[gem_quote style=”5″]If you’d like to review your existing buildings and contents insurance, please get in touch.[/gem_quote]
conveyancing

What’s your repayment plan?

What’s your repayment plan?

Thousands of people with interest-only mortgages expiring this year do not have a repayment plan, putting their homes at serious risk of repossession.

40,000 interest-only mortgages are set to mature in 2016, but experts suggest that only half of these homeowners have the capital in place to repay the loan. And according to the charity Citizen’s Advice Bureau, this is just the tip of the iceberg, with 934,000 interest-only borrowers without a plan to pay off their mortgage.

The ins and outs of interest-only

Unlike a repayment mortgage, where the borrower pays off the capital and interest on their loan each month until the debt is cleared, an interest-only loan offers a cheaper monthly premium but requires a single repayment of the capital at the end of the term. Normally this is cleared using the proceeds from a separate investment vehicle.

For example, a £150,000 mortgage at 5% over 25 years would cost £877 per month on a repayment basis, but only £625 per month interest-only. However, the latter leaves the original £150,000 capital debt to be repaid.

Since 2012, anyone taking out an interest-only loan must have a repayment plan in place which has led to a drop in the number being sold.

Don’t get trapped
If you have an interest-only mortgage but no repayment vehicle in place, it is critical you review your finances as a matter of urgency. Depending on the term left on the mortgage you could set up a repayment plan now, or look at switching to a repayment mortgage. This may mean higher monthly repayments, but there are a lot of competitive deals in this current low-interest rate environment. Another option could be to sell your home and downsize – something that may be possible if older children have flown the nest but nevertheless a difficult decision if you don’t want to lose a cherished family home.

[gem_quote style=”5″]If you are concerned about your mortgage, or you need advice on a suitable investment vehicle, please get in touch.[/gem_quote]

Your home/property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

Insurance Quotes

The value of Income Protection

The value of Income Protection

We work hard to provide for ourselves and our families and enjoy spending our monthly earnings on holidays and leisure – as well as the more mundane (but essential) things like bills and mortgage payments of course. So you’d think we’d place huge importance on protecting an asset as valuable as our income.

According to research from Zurich, however, this is sadly not the case. In fact, only 20% of the people surveyed had protected themselves against a loss of earnings in the event of illness or disability.

Risk versus reality

Perhaps more surprisingly, 43% said the chances of them becoming ill or disabled and unable to work were extremely unlikely – even though a similar number (42%) had already experienced a loss of income for this very reason. This apparent discrepancy between perception and reality is particularly worrying as a third of people believe they don’t have enough savings to cover expenses for more than one month.

Protect your greatest asset

Income Protection pays out a regular replacement income if you are unable to work due to an accident or illness or, with certain policies, unemployment. For a monthly premium that can be adjusted to suit your budget, this valuable insurance could keep the roof over your head while you are unable to work. Even if you have Income Protection insurance already in place, it’s still worthwhile reviewing your current cover levels. Personal circumstances can change regularly so it’s important to ensure your level of cover remains appropriate.

Most of us don’t think twice when it comes to protecting our vehicles or treasured possessions, and yet it’s our income that enables us to enjoy these luxuries.

[gem_quote style=”5″]Talk to us today about Income Protection insurance to make sure your income is properly protected in the event you’re unable to work.[/gem_quote]